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A Sweet Return: Maple Sugaring Day Back With Guidelines in Place at Oglebay Park in Wheeling

File Photo by Scott McCloskey Retired Oglebay Institute Naturalist Greg Park is pictured in this 2019 file photo explaining the techniques Native Americans and early pioneers used to gather and prepare maple syrup during Oglebay Institute’s annual Maple Sugaring Day event.

WHEELING — Families once again will get the chance to learn about the history and sweet science of maple syrup production, as a popular Oglebay event returns from a one-year hiatus.

Molly Check, director of Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Education Center, said Maple Sugaring Day at the park’s Camp Russel is one of their largest events each year. The COVID-19 pandemic forced it into a one-year break, but it returns Saturday, March 13, though it will look a little different due to COVID safety guidelines in place.

Check said it’s very exciting to see Maple Sugaring Day return to Oglebay Institute’s calendar of events. The traditionally popular family event will have small group tours leaving every 30 minutes from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on March 13.

Participants will have a chance to learn about the techniques Native Americans and early pioneers used to gather and prepare maple syrup, while being guided through several stations along wooded trails near the camp. There, educators will provide brief presentations during 60-minute tours. Participants will also have a chance to learn about maple trees and more modern methods of making syrup. The event concludes with participants enjoying a hot pancake breakfast at the Camp Russel dining hall.

“It is going to look a little different this year. Instead of having a buffet serving line like we have in the past, we are going to be serving individual plates,” Check said of the breakfast.

She added that the tables will be set up further apart to allow for social distancing inside the dining hall, while activity and vendor tables will be set up outside the hall. Check also said participants are being asked to wear masks this year during the event while they are not actively eating or drinking since the tour groups will consist of families from multiple households.

Visitors will also have a chance to enjoy syrup that is actually made at the event and sample some maple syrup candy made by vendor Misty Mountain Estate of Lewisville, Ohio. Representatives with Misty Mountain will be on hand to explain the boiling-down process of turning sap into syrup.

While they are not permitted to host live music at this year’s event, Check is hopeful they will be able to return with live music next year. While many of the tour times are already filled the center is still taking reservations. For more information or to make a reservation, call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 or register online on the Schrader Center page at oionline.com.

“This is really a beloved event by the community and by the staff,” Check said. “We work really hard on gathering the maple sap and boiling down into syrup. Maple Sugaring Day is the big celebration for us at the end of our maple sugaring season. It’s wonderful to bring it back again this year.”

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